North Down edged this Women’s Championship game between two evenly matched teams on a misty Sunday afternoon at Bridge Street.
It was a hard fought competition that lasted almost two hours and, while it may have struggled for continuity at times, it was a full on encounter between two determined sides.
North Down started with their tails up and they were virtually camped inside the Portadown 22 for the opening 10 minutes, coming close to but just not quite making the line. The game was turned on it’s head when Portadown’s Jennifer McCall broke from underneath her own posts only to be hauled down about 10 meters short of the try line. Portadown’s trailing winger Diana Marks was quick to latch on the loose ball and scampered over for the opening try which was converted by McCall I believe.
The visitors set about their task yet again; the play again concentrating around the Portadown 22 and after 20 minutes the pressure finally told with Sam Smallwood finishing off a break off the back of a scrum for an unconverted try out wide, taking the score to 7 – 5.
While North Down continued to enjoy a territorial advantage throughout the first half, it was Portadown who were able to cross the line after a second break up field. A short period of pressure in the North Down red zone ended with Kirsty Jackson going over to extend the home sides lead to 12 – 5 as the teams went into the half time break.
Portadown started the second half strongly with Rachel Totten blasting over shortly after the restart to push the score along to 17 – 5 but North Down hit back minutes later with Stacey Marshal finding the try line out wide and Eimear Campbell followed it up 10 minutes later with a converted try to take the score to 17 – 17.
The visitors continued to push forward after their fight back and six minutes later they took the lead with the hard working Smallwood going over for her second try to take the score to 17 – 22 in a busy third quarter.
The scoring slowed somewhat in the final quarter, though it did start with another impressive run from deep by McCall, who finished it off herself under the posts, the conversion hitting the upright to leave the score at 22 – all with over 15 minutes left.
A late penalty by North Down’s Campbell ultimately settled the game in the visitors favour despite Portadown coming close in the closing minutes.
Final score: Portadown 22 North Down 25.